Quit Smoking !?
How many times have you said to yourself ‘IT’S TIME TO QUIT’ and about how many and varied things?
Smoking. Drinking. Chocolate. Fat. Sugar…
WHAT’S THE POINT?
The hardest part of quitting is to not quit quitting.
Motivation is difficult at the best of times but when you are fighting to delete a negative from your life and the only combatants involved are yourself fighting against yourself, it seems nigh on impossible at times to attain even the smallest victory.
The solution is not as difficult as it may seem.
The two principal keys to quitting anything are objective and reward. There is no point saying to yourself you are going to do anything – anything at all – without a reason for doing it.
Why do you want to quit? This is what you must ask yourself and you need to give yourself a plausible, practical and most importantly, a tangible reason. The purpose for your wanting to quit will be directly proportional to, not only your motivation to do it, but your will power, perseverance and determination to see it through.
If you are trying to quit because someone else expects it of you, it will be more difficult, and you will likely fail. We humans are rebellious souls by nature and if we feel under obligation to do something we invariably find all manner of reasons, excuses and ratification for ultimate rebellion, even if we are not aware we are doing it. In order to be a success at anything in life we must first want to do it; quitting is no different. In order to quit anything we alone must actually want to delete this thing from our life; otherwise, the motivation is not there. Without motivation or reason for your actions, there will be no action and thus you will never quit anything.
Your reason for quitting must have substance, no matter what bad habit or guilty pleasure it is you are trying to quit, and it must be a decision you make for yourself, with yourself.
COLD TURKEY? (not Christmas dinner leftovers!)
Having decided why you are going to quit, you must then decide precisely what form your quitting process is going to take. Will you go cold turkey, or will you ease yourself gently away from the guilty pleasures you have favoured for so long? There is no easy answer to this and only you can decide what is best for you personally.
Remember quitting FOR someone else and quitting because someone else EXPECTS it of you are two completely different animals. Your mother may expect you to quit drinking because to her way of thinking it is morally wrong; something you are completely at odds with. Your partner or children, however, may want you to quit drinking, whether they have said so or not, principally because you turn into an incompetent, drivelling, belligerent ass who’s company no-one wishes for when you do drink. This behaviour, for example, is neither conducive to the coherence of the family unit, or to your personal relationships. You may decide you don’t want this for your family anymore, or for yourself. There-in lies your motivation. Your OBJECTIVE is to quit drinking because you do not wish to inflict the person you become when you do drink on yourself or those you love.
As with anything, baby steps are always the best idea. The thought of never again, in all your born days partaking of something you love, but which you no longer want or feel you should have in your life is daunting, to say the least. Don’t think of it in this way. A lifetime cannot be lived in a day; you must take your life a day at a time and live each day to the fullest of its potential within the means that you have available. In the same way, a lifetime of abstinence from your guilty pleasure cannot be attained in just twenty-four hours. Thus, the solution here is to quite literally attack your quitting just one day at a time. Focus on today only and aim not to partake of this substance TODAY only. Tomorrow, do the same, and the day after that, and so on.
You’re fat. You know it. Others know it, even if they don‘t say so. You don’t want to be fat anymore. Your objective – is NOT ‘to get skinny’; your OBJECTIVE is to not eat fatty, processed foods and not lie around like a useless lump of lard TODAY; and that is your objective EVERY SINGLE DAY thereafter for that day.
For drinkers, in particular, quitting is most difficult. The saying; “One drink is too many; a hundred drinks is never enough!” is oh too true! However, if you don’t have ‘just one drink’ today, then you cannot have ten drinks or more still and potentially create a problem for yourself with those around you.
Discipline and determination not to succumb TODAY only is all you have to focus on in order to quit long-term.
In order to feel you are achieving your aim you need to actually SEE a result. When quitting, there are no actual visual, physical results because you are losing or deleting a negative. Therefore, a positive re-enforcement visual progress aid is an absolute must.
One very effective and extremely simple way is to track your daily progress on a calendar. It only takes a moment. This technique is easy and gives a clear visual mark of your progress. On a large format calendar which has box squares on it for each day, put a big red cross from corner to corner in thick red pen or texta on any day upon which you succumb and partake of your guilty pleasure. Conversely, each day you exercise discipline and determination, reward yourself with an almighty tick in your favourite colour. You can only do this when the day is actually DONE with so only upon waking the following morning can you say ‘I did it!‘ – or ‘DAMN IT, I didn’t do it.‘ and mark the day before’s progress with either a cross or a tick. Start it now – today. Which mark must you make for yesterday? It will likely be a cross. Don’t be disheartened. This is only where you begin. Focus on not partaking today in order to place your first tick tomorrow.
In doing this, you can clearly see your progress. The first week will be the hardest, but when those ticks start to build, so too will your determination to keep them flowing…
Motivation and determination must always have their reward in order to maintain momentum. For every seven days worth of ticks you have in one flowing sweep, you must reward yourself. Now… (cue wicked laugh!) …
$1 per day is your reward! Yes, you heard correctly. $1. BUT – you only get this reward for every consecutive seven days in which you have abstained. If you go nine days and succumb to your guilty pleasure on the tenth, you get your ‘seven day of ticks’ worth of reward, but you do not get the two days beyond. You only get another $7 when you have achieved seven days abstinence once again.
$7 is not a big reward. This is deliberate. It’s the small things which are the biggest victories, hardest earned. It is, however yours and yours alone to buy absolutely anything you please that makes you feel good. It will require some serious thought, because it must be something that you really want; a reward; but it cannot exceed your $7 – and it must not be your guilty pleasure! That would rather defeat the point.
Your $7 purchase will be a little triumph in itself and you will find you will want to wait until it is just the right thing you buy, for just the right price as you will want to enjoy your little victory, which is yours and yours alone, achieved by none other than you! And next week, in seven days time, if you are good, you can do it again. If you want to keep the money, you can and let it accrue; but you must not add any other cash to it. This is your reward money only; it must be used only for that and that only must be used to reward you for abstaining from your guilty pleasure!
The principal here is, you are gaining back, in part, every seven days, what you didn’t spend on your guilty pleasure and with that you are gaining a new and lovely little pleasure as reward.
If you fail on a given day; if you succumb, if you cheat, if you bend the rules, fudge the line or fall off the wagon; remember – it is only you you are lying to or letting down, and no-one else. This is your objective and yours alone. Don’t bother cheating or lying to yourself; you will only make yourself feel worse. If you do succumb, be adult about it; accept it and mark it down. Take a breath, admonish yourself rigid or speak severely to the cat for not stopping you and determine to begin again, here, now, today. Focus once more on not having that drink or smoke or chocolate bar or processed fatty foods, or whatever your guilty pleasure is, TODAY.
You will find, that after having achieved your fourth tick, it will become easier and your determination to make it to seven will increase. Having achieved seven ticks, you will want to repeat the cycle and so on; all the time remembering and keeping in mind your ultimate objective and reason for quitting and re-affirming this objective to yourself every day. It is all too easy to say, ‘I have been behaving – I‘ll treat myself to just a little bit of guilty pleasure, just this once‘. What’s the point in doing what you are doing if you are going to do that?!
Many advices when quitting are to have nothing of that which you are trying to quit anywhere within reach of you. This is rubbish. The hardest part of quitting is feeling like you can’t have that which you are trying to quit. If, however, you have some there and you know you can have it any time but choose not to, you will in fact be less inclined to partake of it and your determination not to open it will increase daily. You’re not going to throw out a lounge because your lazy, so why would you tip perfectly good alcohol down the sink, or toss away an unopened pack of cigarettes when you know full well you are just going to go out and buy more as soon as you get an urge!
Remember, if you do not open the bottle, the biscuit packet or pack of cigarettes, you cannot empty it. It’s as simple as that. Discipline and determination not to succumb TODAY is all you have to focus on.
Your determination not to disappoint yourself will eventually outweigh any urges you have to give in, succumb and let yourself down after all your hard-earned efforts so far.
At the risk of writing a culmination of terrible clichés… (writers & editors – See No Evil!)…
Don’t give in, don’t give up on yourself and if you do succumb, get over it! Make your mark on that calendar, whatever happens. And as the saying goes… pick yourself up, brush yourself off and start all over again! Literally.
You won’t regret it, guaranteed.
© Tezi Magazine 2011
A NOTE FOR THE QUITTER’S MATE…
(If you’re not a quitter, but know someone who is trying to quit; don’t laugh at them, taunt them or peer pressure them into breaking their will in order to make them succumb for a laugh. Quitting anything is not a decision anyone makes lightly and those people who are trying to change their lives in this way need support, not belittling. Silent acknowledgement, respect and acceptance of their plight from you is indeed all the encouragement and support they need to press on.)